Before the NBA Finals began two weeks ago, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson identified the matchup between Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett as the one most intriguing to him.
And without question, the power forward showdown has had critical implications on each of the six played games heading into Thursday’s monumental Game 7.
The Lakers put together a dominant Game 6 performance thanks in part to Gasol’s brilliant near triple-double – 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists – after he’d played less than his Spanish best in Beantown.
Earlier this week, we took a look at how much better the two players had played on their respective home courts.
But Game 7 is in L.A., where Garnett’s production has dipped considerably from the 18.7 points, 7.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks he averaged in Boston.
The stats for the three games at STAPLES:
Gasol: 21.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 blocks.
Garnett: 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 0.33 blocks.
Clearly, Boston’s going to need those numbers to be considerably closer to give the Celtics a good chance at winning Game 7, particularly in the absence of starting center Kendrick Perkins, out with a knee injury.